News Headlines 4/29/21

BIDEN FOCUSES ON JOBS IN PRESENTING SWEEPING PLANS IN FIRST JOINT ADDRESS TO CONGRESS: President Biden focused on jobs last night (April 28th) as he presented sweeping plans in his first address to a joint session of Congress that would expand federal programs to move the economy forward, presenting America in competition with other nations on the economy and technology of the future, and with autocratic enemies over whether democracy can still work and lead the world. Biden cited his administration’s accomplishments in his first 100 days on battling the coronavirus and the economic fallout from it, speaking about the success of the ongoing vaccination campaign and the number of jobs created. He spent a significant amount of time talking about his American Jobs Act infrastructure plan, describing it as as “blue collar blueprint” to  build America, and also saying that, quote, “jobs, jobs, jobs” is the most important word when tackling the climate crisis.

Biden also spoke about social safety net proposals, including universal preschool, two years of free community college, paid family medical leave, extending the child care tax credit and reducing health insurance premiums for people who get coverage through the Affordable Care Act. On other issues, Biden called for police reform with passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, urged an end to what he called the “exhausting war” over immigration with immigration reform, and said “we need to protect the sacred right to vote,” calling for the Democrats’ voting rights legislation to be passed. He was impassioned as he said America’s enemies, who he called “the autocrats of the world,” are “betting” the U.S. can’t overcome its divisions and that we need to, quote, “prove that democracy works.”

  • Unlike usual addresses before a joint session of Congress, there were far fewer lawmakers present because of the pandemic, and they were masked and seated distanced from each other. In another striking difference, for the first time, two women were seated behind the president, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which Biden remarked on by saying, “It’s about time.”

[“100 days since I took the oath of office, and lifted my hand off our family bible and inherited a nation, we all did, that was in crisis. The worst pandemic in a century, the worst economic crisis since the great depression, the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War. Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation, America is on the move again.”] SOUNDCUE (:31 OC . . . the move again.)

[“90% of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site. Everyone over the age of 16, everyone is now eligible to get vaccinated right now, right away. Go get vaccinated, America.”] SOUNDCUE (:19 OC . . . get vaccinated, America.)

[“Nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree. 75% don’t require an associates degree. The American Jobs Plan is a blue collar blueprint to build America.”] SOUNDCUE (:17 OC: . . . to build America.)

[“For too long, we’ve failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis: jobs, jobs, jobs.”] SOUNDCUE (:12 OC . . . jobs, jobs, jobs.)

[“The vast majority of men and women wearing the uniform and a badge serve our communities and they serve them honorably. **EDIT** We have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name.”] SOUNDCUE (:20 OC . . . George Floyd’s name.)

Senator Tim Scott (Republican response):

The Republican response was delivered by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate, who accused Biden and the Democrats of, quote, “pulling us further and further apart.” While Biden touted the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, Scott was critical of it passing without Republican support, and took aim at Biden’s sweeping economic and social safety plans. He was critical of Democrats who say intuitional racism is a problem, saying, “Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country.” Scott also portrayed Biden’s infrastructure plan as a “partisan wish list,” and pushed back on criticism of voting law changes being made in many Republican-led states, saying, “Republicans support making it easier to vote and harder to cheat, and so do the voters.”

[“He promised you a united nation to lower the temperature to govern for all Americans no matter how we voted. This was the pitch. You just heard it again. But our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes. We need policies and progress that brings us closer to together, but three months in the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart.”] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC . . . and further apart.)

[“Republicans support everything you think of when you think of infrastructure, roads, bridges, ports, airports, waterways, high-speed broadband. We’re in for all of that. But, again, Democrats want a partisan wish list. They won’t even build bridges to build bridges.”] SOUNDCUE (:20 OC: . . . to build bridges.)

FEDERAL AGENTS RAID GIULIANI’S HOME, OFFICE: Federal agents raided Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan home and office Wednesday (April 28th) as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the business dealings Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and former New York City mayor. Computers and cellphones were among the items taken by the agents, with the raid an escalation of the probe over Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine. Giuliani issued a statement through his attorney accusing federal officials of a, quote, “corrupt double standard,” referring to allegations he’s made against prominent Democrats.

JUDGE REFUSES TO RELEASE BODYCAM VIDEO OF MAN SHOT BY NORTH CAROLINA DEPUTIES: A judge refused yesterday (April 28th) to publicly release bodycam video of the fatal shooting by North Carolina deputies of Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black Man, last week. Judge Jeffery Foster said that doing so at this point could jeopardize the investigation of the shooting. But he did order that Brown’s family be allowed to privately view five bodycam videos and another video from a dashboard camera within 10 days. The ruling came soon after a North Carolina prosecutor said Brown had hit law enforcement officers with his car before they opened fire last week. The deputies were serving drug-related search and arrest warrants at Brown’s house in Elizabeth City. Brown’s family released an independent autopsy showing he was shot five times, including in the back of the head.

FEDERAL HATE CRIMES CHARGES BROUGHT IN DEATH OF AHMAUD ARBERY: Federal hate crimes charges were brought by the Justice Department yesterday (April 28th) against three men who are accused in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was shot and killed in February 2020 while running in a Georgia neighborhood. Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael were charged along with William “Roddie” Bryan with interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. The indictment charges that the McMichaels, quote, “armed themselves with firearms, got into a truck and chased Arbery through the public streets of the neighborhood while yelling at Arbery, using their truck to cut off his route and threatening him with firearms.” The three remain jailed in Georgia on state murder charges. The McMichaels’ attorneys have said they  chased Arbery because they thought he was a burglar, and that Travis shot him while afraid for his life as they struggled over a shotgun.